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Shocking rise in Hawkesbury domestic crisis numbers
Domestic violence, sexual assault and other forms of trauma have climbed sky high in our region over the last two years
The massive increase in demand for domestic violence services – and lack of suitable accommodation in the Hawkesbury for those fleeing violence – was highlighted this week during a visit by two Federal Shadow Ministers.
The Women’s Cottage Richmond manager, Maria Losurdo, told Shadow Minister for Housing and Homelessness, Jason Clare, and Shadow Assistant Minister for Communities and the Prevention of Family Violence, Senator Jenny McAllister, that domestic violence has been rising in the Hawkesbury for nearly two years following drought, bushfires, two floods and the impacts of COVID-19 and lockdowns.
The meeting was hosted by Macquarie MP Susan Templeman.
“Maria told us The Women’s Cottage saw more than 800 crisis clients in the year leading up to June 2020, 500 of which were new. Forty per cent of women were impacted by domestic violence (DV).
“A further 20 per cent were impacted by sexual assault and other forms of trauma,” Ms Templeman said.
Jason Clare, Susan Templeman, Maria Losurdo and Senator Jenny McAllister at The Women’s Cottage in Richmond
“There were three to five new clients every week during the first wave of COVID.
“It’s put enormous strain on services that are already operating at capacity.
“The Hawkesbury has enough demand for at least two full time DV case workers, and at the moment it only has one who works three days per week with funding due to end in December.
“This problem is compounded by an acute lack of affordable housing in our area. There is no social housing and demand is high for rental properties, making it extremely difficult for people leaving a dangerous situation to find somewhere to live – and unfortunately very often, this prevents them from doing so.
“There is a critical lack of crisis and medium-term housing specifically for women leaving DV situations in the Hawkesbury,” said Ms Templeman.
Senator McAllister said one of the leading causes of homelessness was domestic and family violence.
“After years of neglect and underfunding by the Morrison Government, local domestic violence shelters are under-resourced and unable to tackle the scale of this crisis,” Senator McAllister said.
“Every year across the country more than 10,000 women and children fleeing violence, including woman and children in our community, are turned away from shelters because there isn’t a bed. “After almost a decade in Government, housing affordability has only got worse under the Liberal-National Government.”
Mr Clare said housing costs in both the Hawkesbury and Blue Mountains have skyrocketed in the last 12 months.
“House prices in the region have jumped by up to 29.9 per cent, much more than the national average of 21.9 per cent,” Mr Clare said.
“The cost of rent has also skyrocketed. Rent in Sydney has increased 5.5 per cent in the last 12 months. In some parts of Macquarie, it has jumped by two or three times that.
“It’s harder to buy than ever before, it’s harder to rent than ever before and there are more homeless Aussies than ever before.” Ms Templeman said the huge demand for services, and the people who provide them, needed to be met.
“Hearing from people like Maria who are on the frontline of providing these desperately-needed services not only gives Jason and Senator McAllister an idea of what problems people in our area are encountering, but helps shape policy that will provide practical solutions in the future,” Ms Templeman said.
“I thank Maria for taking the time out of her extremely busy schedule to tell us exactly how it is. Her input is invaluable and will help pave the way for the future.”
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